Ministry of Education (MOE) has put in place various measures to better prepare students in Special Education (SPED) schools for employment, said Mr Ng Chee Meng, the (then) Acting Minister for Education (Schools) in the Thirteenth Parliament session, in response to MP (Tampines GRC) Mr Desmond Choo’ question.
Mr Desmond Choo has asked the Acting Minister for Education (Schools):
- What is the current employment rate of graduates of special education schools, and
- What are the efforts to help special needs Singaporeans to seek employment.
Mr Ng answered that each year, about 300 students graduate from the SPED schools. Due to the diverse range of disability profiles, these students have different degrees of readiness for work or further studies.
Of all the graduates, Mr Ng said about one in three moves on to regular employment in a wide range of industries, including Retail, Hospitality, Medical Services, and Food & Beverage.
And more than 50 percent of them move on to sheltered workshops or day activity and care centres. The rest, about 10 percent, move on to further studies.
Of the government efforts to help the SPED students to find employment Mr Ng explained, it implements proactive, whole-of-government approach in helping students and persons with disabilities to gain employment in order to live independently and integrated in society.
According to the Minister, MOE has put in place various measures to better prepare students in SPED schools for employment.
- A Framework for Vocational Education guides SPED schools to develop a structured curriculum to equip students with life skills and work habits to be employable. This includes participation in authentic and structured work experience.
- Students who obtained either the ITE Skills Certification at Metta School or Workforce Skills Qualification at Delta Senior School may apply for jobs in the open market or attend further training as long as they meet the pre-requisites for the courses, eg, the National ITE Certificate.
Persons with disabilities can seek employment assistance and training opportunities from SG Enable, Mr Ng said.
He pointed that in 2014 MOE had collaborated with MSF and SG Enable to develop the School-to-Work (S2W) Transition Program for students who have potential for work but may not benefit from the certification programmes.
He reiterrated, the program begins in the student’s final year of schooling and continues for up to one year after he/she graduates. This allows SG Enable to work with students and their families in the final schooling year to place students in appropriate jobs or job training pathways based on their interests, strengths and preferences.
“After they graduate, students receive customised job training, including structured internships with support from Job Coaches, to prepare them for eventual employment.”
“SG Enable also provides internship opportunities for special needs students in tertiary institutions,” Mr Ng finished.
MOE in a press release on 2 November has stated that the (S2W) Transition Program has yielded positive outcomes for students of the first graduating cohort, their parents and employers.
- Of the students who participated in the prototype, 80% were successfully employed, with 83% of them staying employed for at least 6 months.
- Students also felt they had a sense of self-worth in being able to earn an income and contribute to their families.
- Parents shared that the program helped their child acquire work skills and habits such as getting along with co-workers. Parents also reported greater levels of self-confidence, independence and capability in carrying out daily activities among their children.
- Employers reported a more inclusive culture as their staff developed more positive attitudes towards persons with disabilities.